St. Jerome’s will be following the guidance in relation to Contact Tracing. Please find below the process that this involves.
However, the biggest thing to note is that if you are feeling unwell in any way at all you should not attend church, this is for your benefit and all of your parish community and the wider community as a whole.
1. Give yourself plenty of time to get to church ensuring you arrive well before the start time, if you turn up just before the start time or are late you may not be allowed in as the church can only admit a limited number of worshippers. Your early arrival will help volunteer stewards get everyone into church in plenty of time for Mass.
Please note that there are no toilet facilities.
2. Entrance to the church will be by the Greenloons Drive entrance ONLY.
4. On arriving at the church there may be others there before you, please queue along the building line towards the parish centre and adhere to guidelines in relation to social distancing. When you reach the church door please wait to be invited in by our volunteer stewards. Only one person will be allowed in at a time. Children need to be accompanied by adults, with young children entering with one adult.
Please note that children need to remain in their places
5. On entering the church porch you will be invited to sanitise your hands. Once your hands have been sanitised you will be directed to a steward who will take you to your seat. You must note that you cannot choose your seat. Again please adhere to the guidelines in relation to social distancing and go immediately to your seat. Sadly there is no opportunity to greet our friends. Once seated please remain in that place.
6. Whilst in church you should keep your mask on and only removed it when receiving Holy Communion, replace it, then remove once you have left the church.
7. The distribution of Holy Communion will occur at the usual time in Mass and not at the end as indicated in the Archbishop’s message. You will remain in your places for Holy Communion, Fr. John will stand before the whole congregation acclaiming “The Body of Christ” to which we reply “Amen”. Then Fr. John will come amongst you walking in-between the benches distributing Holy Communion. No other words are then spoken as you receive Holy Communion. You must receive Holy Communion in the hand with your arms outstretched.
8. The Mass will continue through to the dismissal, Fr. John will leave the Sanctuary and process to the sacristy. You must then remain in your places until a steward directs you to leave, at no time should you move along benches or try and socialise inside the church. You will leave by the Greenloons Drive door. Once you have left you cannot return as this will mean you are likely to come into close contact with others leaving the church or disrupt the cleansing of the church once everyone has left.
9. Once outside please leave the vicinity of the church, do not feel tempted to stop and talk as this will only delay those leaving behind you from getting out of the church.
10. If at any time you do need to move please just raise your hand and attract the attention of one of our volunteer stewards.
It has been announced today that, with the Archbishop’s agreement, Father Bernard Higham has stepped down as Parish Priest of Our Lady’s and will now retire with immediate effect. The Archbishop has appointed me as Parish Priest of Our Lady’s with immediate effect. This is in addition to my responsibilities at St Jerome’s and St Anne’s.
Our first thoughts are with Father Bernard today. He has served Our Lady’s faithfully for 22 years and has been a wonderful, caring pastor. For 10 of those years he also took responsibility for the pastoral care of St Jerome’s. Our prayers and thoughts are with him as he begins a very well earned retirement. Father Bernard will continue to live in Our Lady’s Presbytery for the time being.
I would also like to ask for your prayers as I begin this new responsibility. There will obviously be changes and adjustments to the life of our parishes in the coming weeks and months, but I shall keep you informed of what is happening.
I shall also be writing to you in the next couple of days to inform you of the Mass times for the coming weekend. Obviously, these arrangements have had to be revised in the light of today’s announcement.
Next weekend, the celebration of public Masses will begin again in Formby. It has been over four months since the last public Masses were celebrated, and I think we can say that much has changed since then. But above all, this will be a day when we can thank God that we are finally able to gather about His altar to celebrate the Eucharist together again.
I want to begin by saying a sincere ‘thank you’ to those parishioners who volunteered for stewarding duties. Only a few days ago, I was reminded by the Archdiocese about the Government directive relating to the shielding of those over the age of 70. Consequently, I was unable to accept the generous offer of some of our volunteers. It would have been easy for me to turn a blind eye and allow all our volunteers to help in order to increase numbers. But we are all aware of how contagious this virus is, and we are also aware of the disastrous consequences should anyone fall ill whilst helping in our church.
I shall be meeting with the remaining volunteers this week for a training session to prepare for our Masses. Only after that meeting, once I have confirmed who is able to commit to days and times, can I make a final decision about the times of our Masses next weekend. I shall be writing to you mid- week to give you the final times of Masses.
Tomorrow, Archbishop Malcolm will visit St Jerome’s to ordain John Mc Carthy to the Diaconate. This marks the end of a five year journey for John, and I am delighted that he has finally reached his goal. I am sure that I speak on behalf of all of us when I offer sincere congratulations to John, Clare, Edward and Ciaran. Although the celebration will take place privately, I am delighted to say that our new live streaming equipment has just been installed at St Jerome’s. This means that everyone can follow the Mass, which begins at 3.00pm tomorrow, through the live streaming link. The link has been put in a message to you all on the parish website. If you are not sure, just send an email to the parish address and you will be directed to the right place.
In due course, once we arrive at safer days, there will be a parish celebration for John. But until then, please remember him and his family in your prayers.
God bless you all,
Link to Live Streaming of Ordination and future Masses at St Jerome’s
Although Saint Anne is not mentioned in the Bible, she is the holy mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. When we pray the St. Anne Novena, we are asking help from our Blessed Mother’s mother! Saint Anne’s feast day is on July 26th, so the St. Anne Novena is traditionally started on July 17th — but you can pray it anytime. Devotion to St. Anne began early in the history of the Catholic Church. As she was favored by God to become the mother of the holy Virgin Mary, she is often invoked as the Patron of mothers as well as for relationships, among other things.
My letter of the last two weekends were concerned with the practical details of the reopening of churches. This weekend, I wanted to return to my normal practice of sending you a little reflection on the Sunday Gospel. But there are some details to share about the return of public Masses. Therefore I am writing a second letter to you.
The Health and Safety requirements are now almost all in place at St Jerome’s Church. There has been a reorganisation of furniture, new signage, sanitation stations and other provisions put in place. The church has to be inspected this week to ensure that it complies with the requirements. Then it will receive a deep clean.
We have been authorised to cater for a maximum of 68 people at each celebration of Mass at St Jerome’s. After looking at all the various possibilities of how to manage the numbers, the deanery clergy have agreed to use a ‘first come, first served’ process. To me, it seems to be the best solution.
In order that Mass be celebrated, a total of 4 stewards are required for each Mass. The duties of the stewards are as follows; to receive people at the church door and direct them to the hand sanitizer and then to their place in church. To carefully count the number of people arriving and once the maximum number has been reached, to close the doors of the church. To direct people to receive holy communion and to make sure people exit the church safely. Finally, the stewards will be asked to sanitize the benches where people have been sitting.
Full protection will obviously be provided for each steward. Contact will be kept to a minimum as much as possible. Careful instruction will be provided for each steward before Masses begin again.
I now invite any member of our parishes who feels able to volunteer for this service to contact us through the parish email in the next couple of days. We will then get in contact with you to explain what you need to do next. I am proposing that the Mass times at St Jerome’s will follow the usual pattern for now; Saturday at 6.00pm and Sunday morning at 9.00am and 11.00am. Because St Anne’s is not reopening at the present time, I am celebrating their 9.00am Mass at St Jerome’s to cater for them. But all 3 Masses are obviously open to all. The Dean will confirm these Mass times in the coming week.
More details will be given in the days ahead. There are two weeks remaining until our Masses begin again. We are working to get everything safely in place before then.
One final point. It is essential that 4 stewards are in attendance at each Sunday Mass. If we do not get the volunteers, then the Mass cannot go ahead. I have been hearing of one or two sad situations across the diocese where Masses have begun, of too few volunteers which has meant that Masses were cancelled. So I leave this with you.
I shall be in touch soon with further details of our reopening.
With these words, found in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us one of his great parables, the parable of the Sower. The narrative has two parts. First comes the parable itself. Then the explanation of the parable’s meaning which Jesus gives to his disciples. A parable is a story with a hidden meaning. Only the disciples receive the explanation.
I have often wondered why Jesus concealed the meanings of his parables from the people he spoke to. Why just explain the meaning to the twelve? Didn’t Jesus come to teach and save everyone? If people were confused, wasn’t it right that Jesus should lift their confusion? These are questions that seem to be fair, but I think they miss the point.
As Jesus walked the length and breadth of Palestine, encountering huge numbers of people; teaching, healing, encouraging, he had just one purpose. ‘I have come to do the will of the One who sent me’. To open our eyes and hearts to who we are. To understand that we are created for love and precious to the One who made us. But Jesus made clear that love cannot be forced or coerced. True love is always freely given and received. It is not born of fear or anxiety.
The parables of Jesus require careful listening and attentiveness. It is as if Jesus is saying to us; ‘I have come so that you may know that you are loved and precious. But love requires love in return. The more you open your heart to my words, the more deeply you will understand their meaning. The more you love, the more free you will become’.
I think that the parable of the Sower is not primarily about the seed itself, which is the word of God, but about the soil that receives that seed. In other words, the parable is about the heart. This is the meeting place with the Sower, who is God. All the love that God has for us, all the good He wants to give us, is symbolised by that seed. But the focus is the soil that receives the seed. Jesus tells us that the richest soil is found in the one who hears the word, understands it and makes it their own.
Is my heart ready to listen? Is it open to God? Is the soil rich and healthy? Or have these last difficult months made my heart turn in on itself, become self absorbed, cut me off from others? We are hearing the word ‘reopening’ used a great deal at the moment. Maybe the greatest ‘reopening’ needs to take place in our hearts. They need to emerge from the hibernation of these past months and open up to the warmth and light of God’s love. To lose any roughness or hardness and become ‘hearts of flesh’ again. To learn to listen carefully. Then the words of Jesus will truly find a home within us.
Last week I wrote to tell you that the churches of our Archdiocese are being gradually reopened for public Mass in the coming weeks. I also told you that Our Lady’s and St Jerome’s will open on July 26th. Since I wrote to you, we have been working closely with the Archdiocese to prepare our church and put into place all the safety requirements. It is going to take time, but we are already making progress. Decisions still have to be made about how we work out who is able to come to Mass, the timings of Masses etc. But our first concern is to get all the preparations, materials and directives in place. Please continue to watch this space as we move nearer to the time of our reopening.
I am now delighted to announce that the Archbishop has decided to ordain John Mc Carthy to the Diaconate on Sunday, July 19th at 3.00pm at St Jerome’s. I am sure that we all share John’s joy and that of his family as he approaches this great day. Given the current restrictions, we understand that it will only be possible to have John’s family present in the church for the Ordination. It will be very simple. But the good news is that, hopefully, the Ordination will be live streamed, and so it will be possible for the parish family to share in the occasion electronically.
I know that several parishes have been able to live stream Mass regularly over these past months. Installing a professional system is costly. We have been without any collection income for over three months now, apart from those of you who kindly give by monthly direct debit. So our few resources have had to stretch to other needs. But when it became clear that we shall only be able to admit a smaller number of parishioners into the church for Sunday Mass, I felt it was time to get a system up and running, starting with St Jerome’s. Once our parish Masses begin again, I think it will be of crucial importance for those unable to attend to be able to join in our Mass from home.
So we have been working on making this a reality, and the hope is that we can make this happen in time for John’s Ordination.
Once again, I ask your prayers for all the preparations that are ongoing and for John as he approaches his Ordination. I also want to thank those who are working very hard at the moment behind the scenes to get everything ready for us. My sincere and grateful thanks to them.